A matchup against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals was not what Atlanta wanted to see in their first game back from a long road trip. But the Braves battled all night, tagging Strasburg for two runs before winning the game against the Nationals' bullpen in the seventh inning.
Jordan Schafer, hitting leadoff for the second game in a row, showed excellent plate discipline in drawing a 6 pitch walk from Strasburg to start the game. Schafer then stole second when Andrelton Simmons struck out as part of a failed hit and run.That would bring Justin Upton to the plate for only his 18th plate appearance all year with a man in scoring position. The Braves' left fielder delivered, roping an RBI single into right for a 1-0 Braves lead. Freddie Freeman followed with a single that appeared to put men on the corner, but Freeman was called out for wandering too far off first; replays showed Freeman was actually safe. Chris Johnson grounded out with Upton on third to end the inning.
In the top of the second, the Nationals counterpunched, hitting 4 singles in a row off of Braves' starter Julio Teheran. Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Chad Tracy, and Kurt Suzuki all notched base hits, with the latter two scoring runs to put the Nats up 2-0. It looked like Washington was on their way to a big inning, but Strasburg struck and Gerald Laird picked Tracy off of second after he wandered too far. Another strikeout later, and Teheran was out of the inning with minimal damage.
Atlanta didn't stay on the mat long, and came back to tie the game in the fourth. Freddie Freeman led off with a walk, and Dan Uggla followed with a single to put men on first and second with one out. After B.J. Upton struck out, Gerald Laird stepped to the plate and roped a single to center. Freeman came around to score, and Uggla was thrown out at third in a bang-bang play that almost cost Atlanta a run.
Strasburg exited after 6, and Davey Johnson summoned Tyler Clippard from his bullpen. Gerald Laird drew a leadoff walk against the bespectacled reliever, and Tyler Pastornicky sacrificed him over to second. A Jordan Schafer single put runners on the corners for Andrelton Simmons, who delivered with a lineout to right. Laird raced home and Jayson Werth's throw was way up the line; Atlanta led 3-2.
Jordan Walden tossed a perfect 7th for the win, Eric O'Flaherty tossed a perfect 8th for the hold, and Craig Kimbrel tossed a perfect 9th for the save. Kimbrel was aided by a beautiful play from Andrelton Simmons, who fielded a routine grounder from Ian Desmond but slipped and fell as he did. Simmons threw from the seat of his pants and beat Desmond by the slimmest of margins for the first out.
Atlanta may have found their leadoff hitter tonight, at least in the short term. Jordan Schafer was 1-1 with three walks and a steal tonight, and look poised in the field, on the basepaths, and in the batter's box. While Schafer's unlikely to keep this up, the Braves are desperate for anything at the top of the order right now, and will probably look to ride his hot streak.
Julio Teheran deserves a ton of credit for his performance tonight. He was hit to death (allowing 10 in 5.1 innings) but made huge pitches when he had to, helping himself with five strikeouts. Just as in his last start against Washington, Teheran battled after allowing runs early and kept Atlanta in the game.